On January 13, 2019 history was made in the National Football League (NFL) when Sarah Thomas became the first on-field female official in postseason league history. Thomas was hired in 2015 by the NFL as a full-time official. The current officiating chief, Al Riveron, changed Thomas’ title of “head linesman” to “down judge” in 2017. Riveron told SB Nation that there was no need for a gender association with the title, especially since “in this day and age we welcome everyone into football”.
Thomas’ role in the playoff game was rejoiced by many, including former professional tennis player Billie Jean King.
In 2012, Shannon Eastin was the first female official in the NFL as a replacement referee. The inclusion of Eastin in the game was celebrated. American football as a sport has been male-dominated over its entire history. This holds true in the NFL along with university and collegiate level football. Females are slowly, but surely, finding their role in the football world.
Feature image: Sarah Thomas, first on-field official in a postseason NFL game. (Getty Images)